Who We Are As Growing Christians (cont'd)
The second important truth is that God gifted you for the common good.
In the early church, believers faced a world that was either hostile and antagonistic, or ignorant of Christianity. Sound familiar? God provided the church as a place where the faith community could gather together for support and encouragement. In times past, the church was at the center of the community. Not anymore! We experience a similar situation as the early church faced, the people around us are either hostile and antagonistic, or ignorant of Christianity. God never intended us to face it alone - that's the exciting part of a decision to join a church!
The Bible likens the church to a body. In Romans 12:4 Paul writes, "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." Think of the functions within the body. What if your kidney said, "I quit. I've been cleaning up around here for years. Let someone else do it!" What would happen to the body? Or what if the lungs said "we're tired of always huffing and puffing, it's someone else's turn to suck air for a while!" What would happen to the body? Or what would happen if the heart said "I'm pretty important around here, bet I could run things even better if I were on my own?"
In joining this particular church, you become a vital part of the SBPC body so when we do ministry together we become the hands, the feet, the voice (and every other part) of the Body of Christ in the world!
You might be thinking, wait a minute, I'm not qualified or ready to actually do the work of God in the world or the church. Again, I find God absolutely amazing that He gives us everything we need to be all that He created us to be! In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks a lot about what it means to be the church. In 1 Corinthians 12:1 he says, "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed..." In other words, if you miss everything else, don't miss this! Spiritual gifts are divine abilities given to Christians for the work of ministry, for the functioning of the church that it might help bring God's wonderful kingdom into the world.
When you become a Christian and commit yourself to connecting with a particular church family you bring all your natural talents, experiences, passion and personality, but you also bring your God-given spiritual gifts. Indeed, joining a church does not require that you fit into a cookie cutter mold. We are not all the same; we have all been created as unique individuals with our own God-designed purpose to fulfill. At the same time, you really do matter. You are not unimportant to the functioning of the body! The gift you bring is vital to the body of Christ. Paul goes on to write in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different
kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of
them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of
the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a
message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another
miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to
another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of
tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to
each one, just as he determines.
The amazing part is that whatever God has created you to do, He will give you everything you need to accomplish it! You don't have to be nervous about his purpose for you because His purpose will provide you with the best life has to offer. I didn't say the safest, most comfortable life. But it is the best life as designed by the Creator of all life!
Do you ever wonder why you were so fortunate to have so many blessings in this life? Do you really think blessings are given so you can simply exist, feeling "blessed"? No, you have been blessed in order for you to become a blessing. You have been blessed with everything you need to fulfill your purpose on this planet so that you can make a difference! Remember making a meaningful contribution is the second part of what makes a life fulfilling according to the national poll. We don't get to choose our purpose for being here on earth; God does. But we can choose to live according to our purpose, to fulfill it. It will mean we go for it, regardless of the risk or sacrifice. In the process, you will find out that, truly, the best life is the life given completely to Jesus Christ.